A few years back a tiny North Coast NSW town’s primary school girls’ soccer team surprised their parents, teachers and class-mates when they won their game in the first round of the NSW schools state knockout competition. The team was made up of two highly experienced, top notch players, a few hackers from the town’s club soccer team and a dozen or so kids who didn’t know the difference between a soccer ball and a rugby ball. Despite the squeals with every missed tackle, every ill-timed first touch, every pass that missed its mark by meters and every shot that didn’t get within yonks of the goal the girls managed to win the first game 4 – 1!
Their second-round game was against another first round winner from the same school district. Despite the other school having a much better soccer pedigree and sporting several very good young players and despite the incessant squealing that accompanied more missed tackles, bad passes etc from the local girls, the kids from the small school won their second-round game 3 – 1.
In round three, they were scheduled to meet the perennial local school District Champions which meant a trip by bus to a location an hour or so up the coast. Despite the lack of faith of their coach and despite all the squealing from the girls as shots were missed, air-swings were made and tackles were fluffed, they managed to win the match 2 – 1 and became District Champions!
Play off for the Zone Championship
Things were getting serious. The team were now up to the fourth round which meant another bus trip to a distant park in a play off for the Zone Championship. As the squeals rung out, the girls from the small school managed to hold the other school to a 1 – 1 draw. Extra-time could not split the combatants and the girls from the little school managed to claim the Zone Championship (and thus scrape into the fifth-round) courtesy of a penalty shoot-out.
Before the delighted girls scrambled onto the bus for their victorious return journey to their little town the two experienced girls who had had their heads together in secret conversation since the end of the match announced that they wanted to talk to the rest of the team. They gathered their team mates together into an arm-in-arm huddle while the coach, a few parents and some supporters stood together twenty or thirty meters away, safely out of ear-shot. Eva and Salem jointly delivered the following message.
A quiet word, please!
“We are now into the fifth round of the tournament. If we win the next game, we are Regional Champions which means we travel to Sydney for the State Championship playoffs. This is serious now. Sal and I have been pretty quiet so far, but we think its time we said something. We have only one thing to say to you before the next game. We are all soccer players here! We don’t squeal!”